Ronaldo strike helps Real
Barcelona - Real Madrid have one hand on a first
La Liga trophy in four years after Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brilliant
winner in a 2-1 victory at Barcelona on Saturday that stretched their
lead over their bitter rivals to seven points with four games left.
It was Real's first win in eight La Liga 'Clasicos' and could have an
impact on confidence for next week's Champions League semi-final second
legs when Real host Bayern Munich and Barca entertain Chelsea.
On a rain-swept night at the Nou Camp, when Real also set a new record
of 109 goals scored in a league season, Sami Khedira was sharpest to
react when Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes dropped the ball at a corner.
The Germany midfielder bundled it over the line for a 17th-minute lead.
Barca had started nervously and lacked their usual fluidity and once
Real were ahead they defended solidly and rarely looked like conceding
as Barca stroked the ball around on the slick surface without real
The noise volume inside the giant arena rose after
substitute Alexis Sanchez finally scrambled the ball in for the
equaliser with 20 minutes left but the home fans were silenced three
Mesut Ozil's superb pass released Ronaldo on the right and he took the ball wide before smashing it home.
The goal, extending his La Liga record tally for the season to 42, was
the best response to critics who accuse the Portuguese of flopping in
big games and he is now one goal ahead of Barca forward Lionel Messi at
the top of the scoring chart.
Barca had won six Clasicos and
drawn one since coach Pep Guardiola took over in 2008. It was a first
victory in the contest for Guardiola's Real counterpart Jose Mourinho in
As well as virtually wrapping up the title,
Real's win ended Barca's 11-match winning streak in the league and
inflicted a first defeat on the Catalans in 35 league matches at the Nou
Camp and in 55 home games in all competitions.
It was a triumph
for Portuguese Mourinho, the combative former Barca assistant coach
whom Real took from Inter Milan two years ago to try to end Barca's
three-year grip on the Spanish title.
Mourinho may yet have
another crack at his old club in the Champions League final although
they trail Bayern 2-1 and Barca are 1-0 down to Chelsea after this
week's first legs in Munich and London.
followed a similar pattern to Wednesday's game at Stamford Bridge, with
Barca dominating possession but struggling to find a way through a
The Spanish and European champions suffered
back-to-back defeats for the first time in nearly three years and now
need to regroup for Tuesday's clash with Chelsea.
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